On the big day

Written by    Last updated: June 6, 2006

The week, or even the day, before a church wedding, you’ll probably be expected to go to the wedding rehearsal which will be attended by…

Get ready for one of the most hectic days of your life!

Doing a trial run

The week, or even the day, before a church wedding, you’ll probably be expected to go to the wedding rehearsal which will be attended by the bridal party and possibly the groom’s parents too.

At the rehearsal, the minister will run through the service, everyone will be shown where to stand before and during the service, and the rough timings will be finalised. 

As well as being a practice run for the service, the rehearsal also serves as a meeting time for any members of the wedding party who have yet to meet. The bride and groom often take the opportunity to take the wedding party out for dinner as a token of their appreciation. In the US, these ‘rehearsal dinners’ are the norm.

The day begins

This is going to be one of the most hectic days of your life, so make sure you’ve double‐checked everything the night before. Go over the final version of your speech, and give a copy to your wife or other relative in case of disaster! 

Call the car in advance to check there are no hold ups. Reassure your daughter you’ve done this, then see to your own nerves with a (small) glass of champagne.

Getting there

Your most important task on the morning of the day is to support your daughter, calm her nerves and, above all, get her to the ceremony on time!
You also need to make sure the cars arrive to take the bridesmaids, mother of the bride and other members of the family to the ceremony.

When helping your daughter into the bridal car, make sure that her fabulous dress is not crushed. This will probably be the only time you have alone together today, so if you want to say anything to her, now’s the time. Most brides are very nervous at this point, so a few words of support will be appreciated. Make sure you’ve got a few tissues in case her feelings get the better of her.

Wedding drill

If the marriage is taking place in church, a hymn is usually sung once you have walked your daughter up the aisle. The vicar then states the reason for the gathering and asks if anyone knows of any reason why the marriage should not take place.

Having received the couple’s agreement to be married, the vicar asks who is giving the bride away. The bride hands her bouquet to the chief bridesmaid and you place her right hand in that of the vicar, who gives it to the groom.

Wedding drill ‐ continued

If the marriage is taking place in church, a hymn is usually sung once you have walked your daughter up the aisle. The vicar then states the reason for the gathering and asks if anyone knows of any reason why the marriage should not take place.

Having received the couple’s agreement to be married, the vicar asks who is giving the bride away. The bride hands her bouquet to the chief bridesmaid and you place her right hand in that of the vicar, who gives it to the groom.

If the marriage is taking place at a register office, it is up to your daughter to decide whether she wants to enter accompanied by you or perhaps her chief attendant, as there is no real etiquette involved. As her father, however, you are the usual choice.

Traditionally, you and the bride’s mother sit in the front row during the ceremony on the left hand side.

In most church weddings, once the couple are officially husband and wife, you escort the groom’s mother to the vestry for the signing of the register. At the end of the ceremony, you process down the aisle after the bride’s mother and the groom’s father, escorting the groom’s mother on your right hand side.

Welcoming, partying and mingling

Often the wedding ceremony will take place in the same location as the reception. If this is not the case, expect some photos to be taken before you leave for the reception. Obviously you don’t ride with your daughter to the reception, but take your place ‐‐ usually in the third car ‐‐ following the bridesmaids and best man, or in the fourth car, accompanying the groom’s mother.

Traditionally, as father of the bride, you and the mother of the bride, are the official hosts of the wedding. If you are to welcome guests in a formal receiving line, your place is second in the line, after the bride’s mother.

If the bride and groom prefer to welcome everyone on their own, your job is to mingle with the guests, circulate and make introductions. Usually you are responsible for the free flow of drink and, for all the obvious reasons, you will probably want to keep an eye on what’s being consumed.

Speeches usually take place after the meal has finished and prior to the cutting of the cake. As the first person to speak, you should welcome the guests, say how pleased you are to have the groom as a son‐in‐law and congratulate the happy couple. Then you ‐‐ or your chosen substitute ‐‐ can make your speech, finishing up with a toast to the bride and groom. That over, you can relax.

But you might want to keep an eye out for any elderly relatives who look like they might be flagging (or any younger ones who are looking a bit ‘tired and emotional’)! Enlist the help of the ushers to perform your hostly duties.

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